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Slutty nuns and melted ice-cream

11th April 2008

TA2 Days 14 – 17
Nevis to St Kitts

As it was Sunday morning we had a competition - Best Dressed for Breakfast, Ben and Jules turned up in each others clothes, quite how Ben fitted into Jules’ size 8 skirt I don’t know, Anthony came as Pip, in her bikini, which he filled quite nicely, we also had Princess Jasmine, a mummy and a slutty nun, as well as various miscellaneous entries. I’ll leave you to guess (or at least wait for the photos) to decide which one I was. We all had to do a catwalk for Graham and he picked Anthony as his winner and Jessie as his wife. After Captains rounds we were given shore leave, I went on a tour of the island with Polly, Doug and Graham with his camera. Our first stop was an old sugar mill; it was a photographers dream with old bits of machinery placed about amongst the ruins, rusting gently and all sorts of plants growing in crevices and cracks. Higher up the mountain another old sugar mill had been turned into holiday homes and a restaurant set in some stunning gardens. We found lots of seed pods and some coconuts which our guide opened for us with the aid of a massive rock, I have two hairy little coconuts now, called Herbert and Brian, which are going to get drilled open and filled with rum at some point. We went on around the island to Montpelier Inn, the site where Nelson married Fanny Nesbitt and where Princess Diana used to go with her sons, I’m determined to have my honeymoon there, it’s absolutely lovely!

While we were sitting on the dock enjoying the early evening light and waiting for the RIB to take us back to the ship, a local chap, who was in his 60’s at least, came and sat beside me, within 5 minutes he’d told me we were getting married, he would make me a very happy lady and he had a lovely house for us, but I was going to have to buy it. He also insisted on sticking plasters on my scraped knee, which wouldn’t have been so bad had he not put the adhesive bit right across the middle of the scab. I was very relieved to see the RIB coming in! After supper a few of the crew decided to go over to Pinney’s Beach for a beer, we could hear booming music and see bonfires on the beach, unfortunately when we got there the swell was too big to be able to anchor the RIB so we had to change plans and go back to town, we ended up getting a drink in the local equivalent of a chippy, not quite the evening we’d had in mind, but we did see a very sweet kitten which Jules was all for bringing back as ships cat.

The next morning brought us perfect weather for filming sailing evolutions between Nevis and St Kitts, Graham was out in the RIB with Pip driving. We tacked and wore several times for the camera, which was fantastic practise for us and by the end of the day we had it really neat and sharp. Polly and I got the chance to go out in the RIB with about 7 or 8 cameras and take photos of the last tack and wear for everyone, Pelican really is an impressive sight when she’s going. By then everyone was flagging a bit and we headed in to Port Zante. Berthing on the cruise liner jetty was a bit of a nightmare, the wind that had been our friend all day was blowing straight across the jetty, we got blown off of the lee side twice before we made it eventually on the windward side. When all had been sorted and we’d calmed down there was time to go ashore and explore before supper. Before you find the town you have to go through the nasty tourist trap they have around the actual port, it’s very Americanized, with huge quantities of tat shops, diamond and jewellery shops and duty free outlets. The actual town however is much more Caribbean thankfully, Polly, Jess and I had a wander, found a cool little bar for a rum punch, then headed home for supper. A gang of us went out later, the bar we’d found before was closed and we ended up getting directed to the local casino, who, we were told, had a bar with pool tables upstairs. The bar was closed when we arrived, but because there were so many of us they opened it up especially and we had a great time, the joys of going out in a big group!

Yesterday I had a lazy day; caught up on some sleep and had a lesson on driving Virginia, our dive boat, which was fun. I had a chance to drive the RIB back on Montserrat, the two are very different in their handling, the RIB is rather like a car on ice and Virginia’s a bit like a tea tray with a tiller! I hope to get a lot more practice in and take my power boat exams when we get back to Weymouth. Most of the other voyage crew went ashore again that afternoon, exploring the black sand beach and the town some more and meeting some friendly locals.

Today was our last day on St Kitts, we had an early happy hour and then several of the crew went ashore, some went for some chill time and some of us went on a tour of the island. We visited Romany Manor where we explored some beautiful gardens and were tempted by the batik paintings on sale in their craft shop. Brimstone Hill Fort was our next stop, what a view! They had some scarily life-like figures in one of their display rooms, showing what it would have been like when the fort was occupied, I was tempted to chuck some money on the floor to see if they’d move. Further round the island we paused at the Black rocks where Jessie went for a scramble, giving the rest of us kittens as she disappeared down and then popped up onto a huge volcanic spike above the crashing waves, she returned safely and we spent several minutes cooing over a baby donkey that tried to eat the flowers on my flip-flops. When we got back to the point where we had started (Jessie- “Wow, How did we get here? I thought we’d gone left?” “Er, It’s an island, Jess”) we had time for a beer and a wander, the girls and I had lunch in the bar we’d found before, a proper Caribbean meal of fried chicken, rice and peas and coleslaw, delicious! Waiting for the boat to take us back to the ship we saw some very cool fish in the marina, they appeared to be swimming side up to the water’s surface, which made it easy to get a couple of great shots of them. Back on the ship we scrubbed the decks and got ready to sail, weighing anchor at 5. I helmed her out and along the coast, watching the evening light catching on the hills and troughs of the volcanic landscape. We are currently running before the wind with a very easy motion, I can hardly feel it, should sleep well tonight!

Day 18 - 19
Sint Maartin

I’m in hell. Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration; I’m in a Disneyesque Cruise Liner port. The sea is a stunning azure blue, the beach is white and sandy, the sun is shinning, and everywhere I look there are thousands of tourists and hundreds of tat vendors. The beach is entirely overrun with deckchairs which you can hire for an exorbitant price, behind the beach there are a variety of bars, all slap bang next to each other and pumping out various offensive levels of noise. Behind the seafront there are streets full of more tat and bars….. If you hadn’t guessed by now, I’m none too keen on this stop! We’re only here to get stores for the long leg to Bermuda and make a few repairs and will be leaving this evening for Anguilla. St Maartin looked quite pretty from a distance, but as we anchored yesterday morning in the bay, there were two massive cruise liners on the jetty, we could see the closest one’s huge TV screen as it pumped out MTV on the top deck, way above our masts. Those of us who went ashore in the afternoon soon found ourselves longing to get back onto the ship and escape the garish nightmare that they have turned this beautiful bay into. We came alongside the jetty after the cruise ships left yesterday evening, our little ship takes up only a fraction of the space they did, a point made exceedingly well this morning as we discovered a new one had arrived in the night. We’ve been quite an attraction today, though I’ve seen several of the inhabitants of the cruise liner looking back to take pictures of their ship and ignoring us… Ah well, I suppose everyone has different tastes!

We are losing Pip today sadly, she’s off to Antigua for Classics Week and then home for a bit, no doubt she’ll be back before long though. We took her out to Simpson Bay last night, as the cruise ships were gone the town had pretty much closed up, Simpson Bay some gorgeous specimens along the jetty behind the bar we went to, they can literally walk off the boat and into the bar in two paces. We had a good night there, meeting old friends and new, Ben’s extremely gregarious and Polly’s dredlocks give her rasta status, plus she’s such a genuine loving person, so we always get chatting with the local crowd within minutes.

Pip leaving also meant my watch lost it’s watch leader, taking us down to a party if three (myself, Anthony and Rob). While I was doing the washing up this morning, Doug popped his head round the door and asked me to come see him… I was sure I hadn’t done anything wrong so wasn’t too worried about this, and when he asked me to take over from Pip I was very pleasantly surprised. It’s not a very taxing role, just sorting out watch bills etc really, but it’s nice they think so well of me :)

It’s now late afternoon, stores have been mostly taken in and we’re just waiting for the frozen stuff now, it’s gotten a bit too able to be able to clear out through customs tonight so we’ll slip berth and anchor in the bay again before heading off to Anguilla tomorrow.

A short while later… Frozen stuff is now in, sadly the ice-cream didn’t quite make it so we have just been stuffing ourselves on it- no point in letting it all go to waste! We gave a tub to the linesmen on the jetty, who’d been doing the ropes for the cruise ship opposite us when she left, which bought us permission to stay alongside tonight!

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